This morning, Promise Partner, alumna and teacher, delivered a spiritual and uplifting reading about the ‘sacred myths’ we all live by.
by Promise Partner ’99
In my Religions of the West class, we began the year by talking about sacred myths. Most people hear the word “myth” and think that myths are false or fictitious. But, in fact, myths are the truest stories of all. They are the stories that tell about what is really important, about what we value above all else, our ultimate concerns. They reveal a culture or community’s worldview and values. And whoever you are, sacred myths direct your life.
In terms of religion, sacred myths are the significant stories about the relationship between the world of the divine, of God, and the world of humans. For example, an important Christian sacred myth is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that he rose from the dead and by this defeated death for all people. Whether a Christian understands this story as fact or metaphor or both, the story is true because it contains a great truth – it points to God’s love for the world.
Sacred doesn’t necessarily mean religious, but it can also mean “worthy of respect,” and each of us believes in many sacred myths, even if we are not religious. They develop from our families, our social classes, our nations, our schools. For example, the United States has an important sacred myth of individual freedom. The theory of evolution and the big bang are sacred myths of science.
Here are some examples that my class came up with. Maybe you relate to some of them:
All species come from a common ancestor.
Love is holy.
If you are good to others, you will have a better life.
What goes around comes around.
Humans are not naturally evil.
Everything reaches balance eventually.
Everyone in the world is equal. All life has the same right to live and thrive.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
All living things are reborn after death.
Everything happens for a reason.
Nature is the ultimate force in the universe.
Geometry is sacred and holds the secrets to everything in the world.
Good people will get what they desire in the end.
Everything in the world has a spirit.
Family is wicked important.
We each come to this community with sacred myths from home – from our families, countries, previous communities. Being here at The White Mountain School, we ascribe to a set of beautiful sacred myths together. We live them every day: Having discussions, writing essays, reading novels and historical documents, completing labs – that we value the life of the mind, that we want to challenge our intellect. Drawing, painting, singing, making music – that creative endeavors enrich our lives. During morning meeting and family style dinner, that we grow in community. When you rock climb, backpack, mountain bike, work on the farm – that the natural world sustains us and physical exercise help us to maintain balance. When you do dorm jobs, crew, work jobs, that it is good to work together for the good of the whole. There are many others.
What are your sacred myths? Everyone take a Post-It note and pen and post one of your most important beliefs on the wall.